Local Lawmakers Proposing Creation of a Valley Law School

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Texas Border Business

By DAVID A. DÍAZ

The first of four legislative measures calling for establishing a public law school presence in El Paso County and the Rio Grande Valley is scheduled for a public hearing in Austin on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, before the House Committee on Higher Education.

House Bill 103 by Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco, and Rep. Ryan Guillén, D-Rio Grande City, seeks the creation of the “Rio Grande Valley School of Law”.

That measure is one of seven House bills by separate state representatives which are scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, beginning at 8 a.m. in Room E1.014 at the State Capitol complex in Austin.

Both a live broadcast and a videotaped broadcast of the entire committee hearing will be available for viewing online at:

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https://house.texas.gov/video-audio/committee-broadcasts/86/

Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, is the author of House Bill 138, which would require the Board of Regents for the University of Texas System to establish a “Distance Learning Program”, to be developed and maintained by the UT School of Law at Austin, at a facility owned by The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. 

Canales’ HB 138, which has been referred to the House Committee on Higher Education, has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing.

Canales’ bill applies to the first academic year of UT School of Law students who wish to begin their legal education in deep South Texas. For the second and third years of law school, those students would have to transfer to Austin.

Canales, in his legislation, states that such as program “must be administered in a manner that is consistent with the accreditation requirements for the law school. The (UT System Board of Regents) shall ensure that at least five students are allowed to participate in the program during each academic year. The law school may allow more than five students to participate in the program during each academic year.”

Also, HB 138 by Canales would require the UT System Board of Regents to “ensure that the distance learning program…begins not later than the 2020 fall semester.”

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